Extreme weather has exposed the wreck of a ship, believed to have sunk 150 years ago off the coast of North Wales. Storms in July at Pensarn Beach, Abergele, removed the sandbanks covering the wreck, revealing the ship lying on its keel near a tidal pond in an area known as ‘Abergele Roads’. The lower parts of the stern and sides can be seen, and it is possible that more of the hull is concealed under sediment, although the bow appears to be lost.

The remains of a wooden ship were identified near a tidal pond in Abergele after summer storms uncovered the wreck. It had been buried for over a century.
The remains of a wooden ship were identified near a tidal pond in Abergele after summer storms uncovered the wreck. It had been buried for over a century. [Copyright the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust [Image 4674-0006]]

The wreck is approximately 12.5m long and 4.65m wide, and seems to have been constructed using carvel-building, in which the hull planks are laid edge to edge and connected to a frame, a method which was common in northern Europe after the 17th century. The depth of the water and the conditions underfoot, however, made it impossible to closely measure or analyse some elements of the ship.

Its location, size, and construction have led to the suggestion that it could be the coastal trading ship Endeavour, which sank during gales on 4 October 1854, or at least a ship of very similar construction. The Endeavour was a sloop measuring 12.5m by 4m, which traded up and down the coast of North Wales. It sank on a voyage from the Clyde down to Saltney, Cheshire, and, although the crew was rescued by the Rhyl lifeboat, the Endeavour vanished without a trace.

The wreck was spotted by a member of the public, Mike Hughes, in August, and was reported to the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT), who surveyed it immediately. The rapid survey indicated the potential for more detailed work: more accurate measurements could be obtained using survey-grade differential GPS, and the wreck could be dated more accurately using dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) and timber-identification sampling.

This is yet another example of archaeology recently uncovered by coastal erosion linked to climate change. Dr Paul Belford, the Director of CPAT, said ‘the shifting sands of the Welsh coast have the potential to reveal all sorts of secrets about the past, and we really appreciate new information from members of the public.’

More information about the survey, and a copy of the report, can be found here: https://cpat.org.uk/outreach/ projects/pensarn/.


This news article appears in issue 356 of Current Archaeology. To find out more about subscribing to the magazine, click here.

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